Media Moves

Forbes' Russian edition in huge controversy

December 1, 2006

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the Russian edition of Forbes magazine is in a dispute with the billionaire wife of Moscow’s mayor that set off a firestorm in the country this week.

The December issue was pulled, the editor in chief resigned in protest and Forbes magazine in the U.S. demanded that the German company that publishes the Russian edition under license reverse its withdrawal decision. Late yesterday, the German company, Axel Springer AG, agreed.

Reporters Guy Chazan and Matthew Karnitschnig wrote, “The controversy began Monday when the Russian version of Newsweek published an ad for the Forbes issue showing the magazine’s cover with a photo of Ms. Baturina accompanied by the words: ‘My protection is guaranteed.’

Russian Forbes“According to Maxim Kashulinsky, the Forbes editor who quit, Axel Springer pulled the issue the day it was supposed to hit newsstands after Ms. Baturina’s company threatened to sue over the article. Mr. Kashulinsky called the decision ‘disgusting.’

“Forbes issued a statement demanding that Axel Springer ‘immediately release the current issue as printed.’ After the German company relented, Forbes took a friendlier tack, saying, in a statement it ‘believes that Axel Springer’s cautiousness is understandable.’Axel Springer acknowledged being contacted by Ms. Baturina’s lawyers but said the decision to pull the issue was made because she had been misquoted on the magazine’s cover. It said Ms. Baturina had in fact said, ‘Like any investor, I am guaranteed protection of my rights,’ and the quote as published would have misled readers. An Inteko spokesman said he had nothing to add to the Axel Springer statement.

“Mr. Kashulinsky maintained that he replaced the offending quote prior to publication with one approved by Ms. Baturina. He charged that Axel Springer pulled the issue because Inteko had obtained an advance copy of the article — in violation of Forbes’s policy — and threatened to sue for libel if it was printed. Mr. Kashulinsky said he didn’t know how Inteko got a copy of the story.

“Axel Springer changed its position late yesterday after completing a ‘review of the facts,’ a company spokeswoman said.”

Read more here.

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